Watch For These Warning Signs That Your Roof Decking Needs Replacing

June 21, 2021

Watch For These Warning Signs
That Your Roof Decking Needs Replacing

Your home’s roof probably doesn’t come to mind very often, but it should. After all, one of the primary goals in life is to make sure you have a roof over your head, and yet, once we get one, we never give it a second thought. But roofs aren’t magic. They are a complicated system that relies on all parts working together to keep you and your family safe and comfortable in all types of weather. Like all systems, it needs maintenance and has a lifespan. One of the most important parts of that system is the decking.

What Is Roof Decking?

Also called sheathing, roof decking is the collection of flat surfaces laid across the rafters and is also what your shingles are nailed to. The decking keeps your rafters from moving side to side and gives the entire system its stability. Most decking is made of plywood, but there are several types of material being used in modern roofing, including:

  • Wood – including specialized plywoods with water barriers and fire resistance
  • Concrete – yes, concrete, heavy but very strong and especially handy for complicated roofing systems
  • Steel – by far the lightest yet most durable option

There are multiple price points within each material group, but wood is by far the most cost-effective material, even with its shorter lifespan.

Signs Of Trouble

Like all other parts of your home, your roof will warn you when it is failing. All you have to do is listen. The signs of roof failure are not subtle but often go ignored for far longer than they should, resulting in severe structural damage to your home. If you want to avoid unnecessary repair expenses, learn to watch for and react to signs of roof failures.

Water Spots

Watermarks on your ceiling can be a sign that your roof has a failure somewhere. It may not necessarily be directly above the marks in your ceiling. Water can travel along the joists for quite a distance before it finally drips down onto your ceiling. If you see these marks, either on your ceiling or your walls, you need to have your roof thoroughly inspected.

water spots on ceiling of home

Peeling Wallpaper

If you have wallpaper, you may not see watermarks on your walls. Unfortunately, your first indication of trouble will be your wallpaper bubbling or peeling away from the wall as the moisture loosens the adhesive on the wallpaper. If you notice this happening, your roof inspection needs to happen immediately as the leak could be older, with more extensive damage than when you spot watermarks on your walls or ceiling.

Sagging Ceiling

Some latex paints are so incredibly resilient that you will never see watermarks. Instead, you will only notice a problem when your ceiling begins to sag as the sheetrock comes apart from constant moisture. Sadly, the damage to your home may be significant by that time.

Sagging Roofline

You’ve probably seen older or abandoned homes with rooflines that look like the surface of a windy lake with the decking sagging in spots, usually between each rafter, creating a sense of gentle waves. This is a potential sign of a rotted roof. Most homeowners will take action when they spot the first bit of sagging rather than waiting for the full surf effect across their entire roofline.

Mold Or Mildew

Mold and mildew love water leaks and will set up shop whenever the supply of moisture is consistent. While most common in the lower areas of homes or near leaky pipes or sinks, you can also find mold in the attic beneath a leaky roof. If you spot mold or mildew growing in your attic, you most likely have a failure somewhere in your roof system.

OK, There’s A Leak. Now What?

If things have progressed to the point that you see signs of water leaking into your home, you may need new roof decking. Some will argue that patching the roof is good enough, but that’s simply not true. Consider what needs to happen for you to see signs of water in your home. 

  1. A seal – either flashing, caulking, or some shingles has failed.
  2. Water pushes past the seal.
  3. The roof decking soaks in enough water for it to pass through the wood.
  4. The water then travels along rafters or joists.
  5. Finally, the water reaches your wall or ceiling or has been consistent enough to feed a mold colony.


leaking roof signs

How many gallons of water does it take to soak ALL that wood and reach your ceilings or walls? How long has it had to go on to become noticeable? How much has that wood been weakened? Would you trust a ramp made of that piece of wood? So why would you trust it to protect your home?

Fix It Once

The only real answer is, at the very least, to replace the damaged roof decking. Often, replacing the whole roof is more sensible, especially if the leak results from wear over time. As we’ve mentioned, your roof is a system, and it’s the decking that holds that system together. One patch will turn into two, turn into three, and so on. It is far simpler and, in the long run, far cheaper to just start fresh.

Are you experiencing leaks in your home or just want to know your roof is in good shape? Contact us at Houston Roofing and Construction today for a free inspection.

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